Is TikTok safe to use? How to change privacy and security settings on the video sharing app

This is everything you need to know about TikTok (Photo: Shutterstock)This is everything you need to know about TikTok (Photo: Shutterstock)
This is everything you need to know about TikTok (Photo: Shutterstock)

As life under lockdown continues, lots of people across the UK are turning to the internet to keep themselves amused.

From Instagram challenges to Twitter trends, and video chatting apps, there are plenty of ways to stay sane and connected online.

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One activity that has gained popularity during lockdown - especially among children - is TikTok dance routines and other challenges.

But for parents who don’t know much about it, what is TikTok - and is it safe to use?

What is TikTok?

For those who have no idea what TikTok is, it’s a social media app that people use to share videos of themselves - usually lip syncing to a song or a scene from a movie, or sharing a dance routine. Some users also use the app to film comedy sketches too.

The app originally went by the name, but rebranded in August 2018.

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For lots of people, the platform provides a fun space to be creative. Tik Tok’s editing features make it easy for kids to stitch together fun clips and share their videos, either with a select circle of friends, or the wider TikTok user base.

Various trends and challenges pop up from time to time, in particular dancing challenges like the Git Up challenge and the Renegade.

Is it safe to use?

As with any app, it’s important for parents to monitor what their children can see and do on Tik Tok.

While most of the content on the app is harmless, there is always a darker side to an app that stores some potentially inappropriate content.

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There is the potential for your children to hear songs with inappropriate language, see mature content or even be bullied on the app.

How do I make TikTok safer?

Thankfully there are ways to make sure that your child is using the app responsibly.

Make it a private accountFirstly, you can change the default setting of a profile from ‘public’ to a private account. This way only users you approve will be able to follow the account. Simply head to the profile in the app and tap the three horizontal buttons at the top right of the screen. Select ‘privacy and safety’ and turn on ‘private account’.

Switch off “suggest account to others”You should also toggle the ‘suggest your account to others’ option as well, to stop the account from being suggested to people you don’t know.

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Stop videos being downloadedWithin the ‘privacy and safety’ tab, you can also scroll down and disable features like allowing videos from the account to be downloaded.

Control who can send direct messagesFrom here you can also choose who can send the account direct messages - you can choose from friends or no-one.

Video duetsYou can also limit who can ‘duet’ with the videos uploaded to the account. ‘Duets’ are where someone takes a video and makes another video which is then uploaded side by side. While most users use this feature to get involved with a trend, others can use it to bully the person in the original video.

Family safety modeIf you’re still concerned about your child using TikTok, you can also activate the Family Safety Mode. Family Safety Mode allows parents to have more control over their child's app, such as restricting screen time and the type of content that might make its way onto their feed. You can find out more about Family Safety Mode, and how to set it up, here.

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